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 Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-06-03 15:05

Hi all

Had my first rehearsal with pianist. This is the first time I have performed my pieces with a live person in the room (my teacher is via Skype)

Within two lines of the Vivaldi c minor concerto my embouchure had completely folded in, it was just slipping on the reed.

The sort of thing that usually happens after 90 mins of playing... But within two lines. And I hadn't played earlier today, so my embouchure isn't dead.

Is this a normal response to nerves? And are there ways to counter it?

I have only been playing for six months, so I realise that with time embouchure increase endurance... But I know this isn't an endurance issue as such.. Because I don't have this issue when I practise for long periods of time.

Are there any other common oboe "nerves" things that I should be prepared for.

My pianist asked me if I felt nervous... I didn't at all. She and I have worked together for numerous exams. So it must have been a subconscious thing... But it freaked me out.. If I can't keep my embouchure for her.. What hope will I have in an exam room!!???

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: oboist2 
Date:   2017-06-04 03:10

It is odd - I practice about 1 1/2 hours every day ( i cannot do more now because of rheumatoid arthritis), and I have some days where this happens too - it happens quite unpredictably, and on those days I rest the lips quite a lot, concentrate on air support and abdominal muscles and often the next day, no problems at all. Make sure you warm your lips up well before you start. Before playing I make an embouchure and flex my lips to a smile many times before I start playing, and this preparation often helps. Sometimes when you arrive at a lesson or a rehearsal, you can be in such a hurry to start, that you forget to do this.

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-06-04 08:54

Thanks Oboist. That is scary.. it could unpredictably happen on the exam day then!!!

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: oboist2 
Date:   2017-06-05 05:04

Best not to think about it. Warm both your lips and oboe up well before you play - you will be fine.

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: jhoyla 
Date:   2017-06-07 14:07

This does not sound like nerves to me. are you sure you are doing your embouchure correctly, and not biting? You should be sealing around the heart and cushioning the tip with very little direct pressure on the reed.

A lightly cushioned seal around the reed, control comes from your air. You should be able to adjust the position of your lips on the reed - roll your lips in and out and move your jaw - as you play, for fine control of tone, articulation and pitch.

If you are relying upon the friction of the reed surface to keep your embouchure in place then you have not yet developed your full embouchure, and a little additional saliva will cause your embouchure to fail.


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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-06-07 15:17

It doesn't usually happen, and everything u say I can normally do for about ninety minutes. But with only six months of playing.. My embouchure muscles wouldn't be super yet.

But maybe I started biting with the nerves? I am not sure. I have tried to repeat the situation to observe my behaviours without luck...

I am too shy to go busking though when I am really reasonably new to the instrument.. And not confident enough with my sound yet.

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2017-06-26 19:04

I can't find a Vivaldi oboe concerto in c minor anywhere; is it the concerto in C major? the sonata in C minor?

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-06-26 23:43

You are right eubeau... It is a typo. Sonata rv 53

Actually, barry pointed out to me about blood flow to the lips due to the long continuous phrases in the past movement. Ao i started making sure i took every opportunity to completely relax my lips.

And i got through the exam without this happening!

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2017-07-02 21:30

Glad to hear the exam went well!! When will you know your results?
Oh, and I'm impressed that you can play this at six months. I took three years of lessons nearly a decade ago, just got back to it, and I couldn't play this. I don't know any of the even better amateurs around here who could play the second movement well. What's your background that made you able to progress so fast?

Post Edited (2017-07-02 21:41)

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-07-03 03:34

Lol eaubeau horn.

I started piano at six (licentiate when 15)
Flute at 13 (did grade six first year.. And then didnt do more exams until later on)
Strating teaching at 13 too.
Violin at 17 (did grade eight in two years)
Viola at 23 (grade eight in one year)
Piccolo at 25 (the highest grade is grade four.. So i did that)
Stopped learning new instruments to focus on getting my suzuki qualifications in the inatruments i already played.. And then did my dip teach in all my inatruments.. (can u tell i love exams!)
Recorder at 34 (in two years i did grade 8, dip teach, dipabrsm and lrsm, and my auzuki teaching diploma)
36 clarinet, grade eight and dipteach in one year. But didnt pass the dip teach due to being half asleep in the exam room.
37 oboe.. Thats me now... Lol.
My next goal is my perforamce diplomas in flute.. As i got involved in the suzuki movement, so never did those exams!)

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-07-03 03:42

I would say lots of determination, and pushing through goals.

So for oboe i just pushed through with two hoyrs practise or more a day.. Worked through grade by grade oboe (as it gave me a graded repertorie), and then just learned all the pieves on the syllabus for grade six, seven and eight.

On top of that i worked through many books of studies, including hinke and ferling.

Currently i am working through ferling with a teacher. To refine some aspects of my playing! Lots to refine!

The graded repertorie is the key.. Because then you can see and feel yourself advancing.. And practising the grade over a one or two week period until it sits easy under the fingees.

Musicality is easy... I know everything.. Lol.. Well.. Maybe not quite... But it is just the application of oboe technique that is the new thing to learn.

Oh.. And i bought every pedagogy book under the sun, and read it. With oboe there arent that many available!

There are some disadvantages. Some aspects dont get perfected in the rush. My sound isnt quite whwre i want it. My knowledge of whether a problem is me or the reed. As my teacher is over skype, i havrnt got a grasp of manipulating reeds either.

But i find it quite fun to work towards grqde eight...

At the moment i am struggling with myself, as my trumpet is calling! But dont have enough time to practise everything. So i am focussing on flute, and giving oboe 30 mins a day.

Another trick is to play whole books.. Not just the piece you are working on. And another trick is listening to recordings of every pieve you learn. So you get the oboe sound and musicality almost subconsciously.

Hope that helps

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2017-07-03 19:52

My background is not that dissimilar to yours...piano at six, violin at 11, messed with all kinds of instruments in high school (as opposed to studying them, which my parents were not willing to finance) then on to college as a violin major, played pro (orchestra), didn't like it, lesson business, learned classical guitar, mandolin, electric bass, flat-pick guitar.....even played electric violin in a rock band in the middle 1970s. Back to school, engineering degree, did lots of chamber music in my new city and took up viola, finally really fell in love with the horn at 45, got good enough to get paid for it, developed dystonia (think Alex Klein, but mine was embouchure dystonia, different from finger dystonia) sort of had to give it up (but first love at that point)....then euphonium, then tuba, cornet, took up oboe in my late 50s, then serious illness for five years that nearly took me out, have got some life back, re-learned how to play horn and more or less can get around the dystonia but it's not where it was and won't be, ever. Currently playing horn and tuba in local groups, would be welcome on cornet. Always welcome on violin but .... violin is not fun because I did it for a living (rather wash dishes at a party than be their free entertainment) and now am getting back to oboe because it is a melody instrument like the violin that I can "just play music on" without the struggles that horn presents. Now 68 and retired, hoping that my "just do it" practice routine will get me where I want to be in terms of technique, after a while. Not doing badly but not where I want to be. So we have some in common, although different generations and life paths!
If trumpet is aware that brass are a whole different ballpark. For me, horn was and is the hardest out there, trumpet is easier but you have to have a teacher who can show you embouchure and not just make vague references to how it is done (which is very, very common in the brass world.) Tuba, for me, is easy, despite my being a very small person. Best of luck!

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-07-04 01:13

I found that already.. Got myself to grade five.. Stuck

Had a lesson.. Told to practise more...

Had a lesson with someone else.. Told to practiae more and i will get more range

Have a beautoful teacher... But he doesnt break down the embouchure.

Had a couple of lessons with david bilger.. He pointed out my jaw was pushing forwadd to get range (a flute technique) and then at another lesson told me my lips were too pouty (again a flute thing..) so to pull them in against each other..
Then i focussed on oboe..

But yes.. I fully understand... It is nothing like the ease with which i have conqueref woodwind and strings

I get what u mean re violin too...

I dont performnat al.. So i am safe in that regard...

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2017-07-05 03:38

For brass embouchure, I very strongly recommend a method called The Balanced Embouchure. It is "for the trumpet" but the technique applies equally to all brass. The tuba world is the only place I have found that teachers will tell you what is in this book, and the other brass will just tell you to use more air and practice and it will come. Not so....the book is $50 and worth every penny for someone who is willing to follow this self-teaching method. The exercises will get you there. It's about lip position....the lips must be slightly rolled inwards to go high, and slightly rolled outwards to go low. This can be done entirely within the cup, so someone who is highly skilled doesn't even look like they are doing anything. But if you get a good player and get them to "freeze" their embouchure, remove the instrument, and show you their chops in both high and low ranges, you will easily see the different lip positions. It is highly unlikely that they will be aware of what they are doing, which is why it is not taught. ---- end brass pedagogy on the oboe group ---

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 Re: Avoiding embouchure collapse?
Author: SarahC 
Date:   2017-07-05 07:40

Lol I love you!

Thank u for that very good advice. I will order that book immediately

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